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16 March 2011 @ 07:53 am
  • It's really weird being on Hoosick St in Troy as a destination. It's the road to VT! I debated taking a side-trip up there but I got the roadtripping out of my system, and there was no good way to pull it off unless we went up Sunday. Ann and I spent Sunday lazy.
  • Saturday I got to try on a silly costume at Ann's work in preparation for an April Fool's plot. We have ridiculousness planned. Should be fun.
  • I fought at the fighter practice for a little bit. Enough to get whacked really solidly on the arm by a Calmacil, and remember that I don't like getting hit. And then, as I watched it bruise up to this lovely and colorful 1.5"x1" mess during the FP, I remembered that I hate being hit by Calmacil. They hurt!
  • Ann and I went out to the Beergarten Saturday night with Zach, Pat, Steve, and Steve's friend Dan. It was loud and the boys kept throwing peanut shells into each others' imported German beers. The night was better when we went back to Zach's dorm (a suite) and played an improvised version of Scribblish. I haven't laughed until my stomach hurt in a while.
  • Ann's mom made us a delicious roast chicken dinner, and apple pie for Pi Day. I had not been aware of Pi Day before, and since my first exposure was "I made this pie for Pi Day tomorrow," I thought it was actually Pie Day. Well, it's a good holiday.
  • The DOT "guys" are mostly 15-30 years older than me, and they have the traditional mentality that it's not polite to swear around young ladies. When I went out to a pub with them last night for dinner they said "Sorry, Julie" like some new sort of punctuation. The thing is, they aren't saying anything very bad; I wouldn't have noticed if they weren't saying sorry afterward.
  • I have heard lots of funny and interesting stories this week from people I don't know well that I want to write down, but I have to go to class now. It's a good week for me - I'm feeling chatty, when it's usually hard for me to chatter to strangers.
02 April 2010 @ 12:34 pm
I have three sewing machines in my house again, but only one is working. I just ordered a copy of a manual for home sewing machine repair. Hoping to get them all working again.

Favored is the relatively new Kenmore my mom got me for Christmas several years ago now (2007?) It has nylon gears and a modern engine that purrs softly. It's been pretty faithful and hardy, and hasn't needed much apart from fresh needles and oil so far. It was giving me grief yesterday, though. Something was jamming up in the bobbin race, but I finally seem to have fixed that this morning, only to completely jam the gears somewhere in the top part. I removed the needle and thread, but when I turn the hand crank the gears won't turn at all.

I bought an old Kenmore at the Salvation Army a few weeks ago. It is likely from the 70s, and has all metal gears. It's dirty from disuse, but it turned on and moved nice in the store. It's khaki green, heavy, with a huge base. The bobbin threads a little awkwardly because I have to reach into a hole in the base at a right angle to load it. I tried to use it this morning, but the stitches are a little loose (I probably need to play with it to figure out how to adjust the tension correctly), and I jammed the bobbin similar to the problems I was having last night. I am also hesitant to mess with it much until I oil it, and I can't find my sewing machine oil at the moment.

The one that's working is my grandmother's 1960s Singer. It's an elegant little machine, black with gold filigree. The motor noise just sounds more metal and solid - it reminds me of a type-writer for some reason. It has no bells and whistles except for a funky collection of presser feet, and no reverse stitch. Compared to the more modern machines, the needle and bobbin thread sideways. It needs a little more hand-feeding than the new Kenmore so it doesn't slip sideways while sewing, and I don't dare try to adjust the stitch length or tension right now, but it's working beautifully.
19 December 2009 @ 09:21 am
I'm typing this up for one of the ladies I work with, and figured I'd post it here too. These are awesome, although they take a while to make. I'm having a little of the leftovers for breakfast this morning.

6-7 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 packages (1/4ounce each) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup water
3 eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
5 cups ground walnuts
(we also added 1-2 cups golden raisins)

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat sour cream, butter and water to 120-130 degrees, then add to dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes longer. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled , about 1 1/4 hours. Punch down dough; divide into four even portions. Roll each portion into a 14" x 12" rectangle.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and syrup; stir in walnuts. Sprinkle 1 cup over each rectangle, adding a little extra as needed to cover the surface. Roll up each, jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal. Place seam side down on greased baking sheets. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 4 rolls (approximately 14 slices each)
11 October 2009 @ 06:35 pm
Spent some time in the library today, reading the first few chapters of Food: The History of Taste. It's partly about taste, with a lot of background in cultural history associated with food, dietary needs, and beliefs or misconceptions about diet. I've really gotten interested in cooking and baking the last couple of years, as well as a little on the science of healthy diets and fad diets, and I find the history of it fascinating.

The first chapter was about pre-history food habits and the resources available to make guesses at diet. Stuff like remnants in clay jars, scratches and marks on bones of animals, chemical traces in human skeletons, and studies of still-existing hunter-gatherer tribes. I learned that if you are a carnivore and only eat lean meat, you can starve and have other health complications because your body can't digest it properly. Pre-homo sapiens learned to cook their food, which aids in digestion. Extra fat and grease can also help with digestive issues, if you're starving and malnourished. They also have evidence that early pre-humans were more like scavengers than hunters, eating meat left behind by larger predators and likely a bit rotten by modern standards; they have found animal bones that have tool cuttings overlaid on claw and animal tooth marks.

The second chapter was about Greek and Roman food, citing literary resources such as Homer and the writings of the philosophers. It was a fad for the Romans to write letters to friends describing an elegant feast for a friend who wasn't able to attend. There were published collections of these letters that were popular works. The Greeks loved the meat from four-legged domesticated animals and did not much like fish for feasting, despite living on the coast and having access to plenty of seafood. The sacrifices to the gods described in The Iliad and The Oddyssey involved domesticated animals, not animals caught in the hunt.
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02 September 2009 @ 01:40 pm
The pictures from the forest fires out in California are amazing. Those firefighters are really hardcore. That's dangerous, difficult work. Even with my experience I can't really imagine it. The scale of the destruction is shocking and awful.
21 August 2009 @ 07:11 pm
I'd planned to methodically and slowly clean and organize the house while Justin's been in Vermont working with his dad. I had two weeks to do it.

Yeah, that totally didn't happen. I came home tonight after work and started frantically cleaning the house. It's much improved now, though, and I even got an extension - he won't be here until tomorrow afterall.

I guess I'd better do an extra good job with the extra time. :D

(And not play Mount & Blade at all....)
19 August 2009 @ 06:50 pm
I have been reading a lot lately. I slowly fell out of the habit for a little while, but I have been reading more and more in the last 6 months or so. I missed reading. It's nice.

I delved into the Honor Harrington series, and got through the first three books in a row. They're fun, quick reads. The anticipation of the space battles pulls me through them fast, even though I know it's going to turn out okay for Honor every time. I've told several people that if I had read these when I was in high school, they could very easily have taken over the brain real estate I used for the Star Wars expanded universe novels. As an older reader, I sometimes want to groan at the turns the story takes, but it still sucks me in.

I got partway into The Court of the Air, a steampunk book I picked up in Vermont at the Northshire Book Store. It looked fun, and I thought, after scanning the cover and the insides, that it was a standalone book. This appealed to me after reading so much Honor, but I got about 150 pages in when I looked it up on the internet, and it is a series afterall. At the outset, I liked the world and the feel of it. It promised lots of later secrets to be revealed, and kept the pacing interesting. However, as I go further in, it starts to feel like the author was so wowed by his own world that he got distracted and followed every shiny creation he could come up with. It was cool enough to me that it was steampunk, but then it started to feel like a crazy anime where the world was being revealed at such a fast pace that there would be no internal consistency because I'd never be able to learn the rules. I'm waiting for the walking volcano to show up. This book is on pause for me. I'll get back to it eventually?

Instead I picked up Lament by Maggie Stiefvater, and I loved it. I've had the author on my friends list for a few months now because I like the way she writes about life and writing, but I hadn't read her novels until now. I'll probably pick up her other books pretty quick. I don't generally enjoy faerie stories, especially modern-times ones, but I like her writing style, the feel of the book, and I really liked the main character. I finished it last night when I should have been asleep, but I wanted to know how it ended. Not entirely sure I liked the ending, and I'm still digesting it, but I liked it.

I just started an audiobook version of The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho this afternoon while I was counting cars for work. It has all the solid, inescapable plotting of an old tale. It asks good questions, and it makes my skin crawl just a bit. I want it to end well, but I believe it will end badly.

I'm not sure what to read next. Anyone reading anything good?
05 August 2009 @ 10:31 pm
• Post ten of any pictures currently on your hard drive that you think are self-expressive.
• NO CAPTIONS!!! It must be like we're speaking with images and we have to interpret your visual language just like we have to interpret your words.
• They must ALREADY be on your hard drive - no googling or flickr! They have to have been saved to your folders sometime in the past. They must be something you've saved there because it resonated with you for some reason.
• You do NOT have to answer any questions about any of your pictures if you don't want to. You can make them as mysterious as you like. Or you can explain them away as much as you like.
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17 May 2009 @ 10:00 am
Last night, I was sewing a pair of simple pants and somehow attached the pocket to the ankle.

I know how to sew, really. There's just something about pockets...